February 13, 2012

Menstrual Cycles & Fertility After Baby

I’m in the process of returning to so-called ‘normal’ menstrual cycles following the birth of my baby.
After my post-partum (PP) bleeding (called lochia; it lasted 5-6 weeks for me) I didn’t have a period for seven months but begun to feel familiar stirrings in my uterus from about five months PP. I bled for a couple of days when my son was 7.5 months, and then again when he was 9 months old. Yesterday, out of nowhere (26 days after my previous bleeding; my son is 10 months old) my first proper period started... and boy, I wasn’t ready for that! I had forgotten how heavy they can be.

Lulled into a false sense of security, I thought that I might be one of those women who continues to bleed lightly during periods while breastfeeding their baby. Evidently this is not the case (my son has four breastfeeds a day, and 1-2 in the night, and has three solid meals). It was painful, though not as excruciating as I remembered. Perhaps natural childhood has changed my scales of pain now (or again, lulled into a false sense of security...!).

I’d been doing some research into whether you can take targeted pain relief medications while breastfeeding and most of my findings tend to be inconclusive. In the past I have taken naproxen for period pain relief, though the manufacturers don’t recommend it for breastfeeding mothers. A very small amount of the drug passes through your milk into the baby, but it is very small – about 1%. And in large doses (certainly not typical use) it can have effects on the baby’s digestive and intestinal tracts. Some women may not feel comfortable taking such a risk, but for me –with a history of endometriosis and very painful periods – these little blue pills have been my saviour through recent years. So I have decided to take them for pain relief even while breastfeeding. Now I’m not silly and don’t go above the recommended dosage (I have never really needed to in the past), but I think that’s more important now than it ever was. If pain relief over a 36 hour period (excuse the pun!) allows me to function throughout the day and look after my baby, then that’s something I’m definitely continuing. :)
So am I returning to pseudo-fertility? (remember that my son's birth was the result of IVF after endometrial scarring on the fallopian tubes made natural conception a very low possibility) Who knows, time will tell.
And I guess that's another thing too - if I was fertile and capable of becoming pregnant without the help of reproductive technologies - would we be ready for another child now? I hear many other infertile women (yes, I still consider myself infertile despite having had a child) say that they would be thankful for any successful conception and birth that came their way, but honestly... would I truly be ready now - with a 10 month old - to fall pregnant again now? No, I wouldn't be. If I did, I'd cry, laugh and get on with it. Would we consider IVF again right this second to increase the size of our family? Of course not. Yet I know women who would. Or women who are trying to conceive another baby when their babies are 18, 12 or even 6 months old!
We will have another child someday, but not in the near future if we lived in an ideal world where all our wishes were answered. And that's the truth.

1 comment:

  1. yay for the return of menstrual cycles *can you sense my sarcasm?*

    I think I mentioned in my last blog post that mine seem to be returning too. I had two periods in the month of January (about 26 days also) so we'll see if I get another in February. Before the one in early January I'd only had two lighter ones and they were about 3 months apart. My PP bleeding was close to 6 weeks as well...not sure if that's the norm or maybe it's just us lucky endo girls.

    It's funny the whole idea of a second child. I love Abbey so much right now and want her to be my only baby, for now. It seems like for fertile women it's not that big a thought, but for us it's always somewhere in our head. Right now I change my mind every other day about whether or not I'm ready to "actively" try for another baby. We aren't using protection but I'm really trying to not focus on the timing at all...